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Abandoned Cargo Ship Carrying Porsches, VWs Drifting in Atlantic After Fire

3 min read

A cargo ship carrying dozens of cars including Volkswagens and Porsches is still adrift in the Atlantic Ocean after it caught fire Wednesday and its 22-person crew was evacuated.

The Felicity Ace cargo ship departed from Germany on February 10, and was scheduled to arrive at a U.S. port on February 23, according to MarineTraffic.com. A fire started in the ship’s cargo hold and the crew cleared out.

The vessel is reportedly still stranded at sea, according to automotive news website The Drive.

The crew was evacuated after broadcasting a distress signal, while the ship was near Portugal’s Azores Islands in the Atlantic, a spokesperson for the Portuguese Navy told the Associated Press. The ship can hold over 17,000 tons of cargo and typically carries cars.

The spokesperson also said that a Portuguese Navy ship had visited the Felicity Ace to determine whether the fire could put the 650-foot-long vessel at risk of sinking or polluting the region, per the AP.

The ship is also reportedly carrying nearly 200 Bentleys and a currently unknown number of Audis, The Drive reported. A spokesperson for Bentley confirmed to the outlet that 189 of their cars are on board, which The Drive estimated could be valued in the tens of millions of dollars.

The Felicity Ace is currently carrying about 2,500 vehicles, including over 1,000 Porsches, a spokesperson for Porsche told Autoblog, an automotive news website.

Several users on various car forum websites have posted a message they received from Porsche that said the company was “aware of an incident aboard the Felicity Ace,” The Drive reported. Several of the people who made the posts had reportedly speculated that it could indicate a car they ordered and have not yet received may be on board the ship.

The message from Porsche reportedly said the cargo ship is carrying “certain Porsche vehicles,” and told customers that the dealership they ordered the car from would have more information on what customers would be affected once Porsche knows “the full scope of the issue.”

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, and the only currently reported detail is that it started in the cargo hold.

Losses of cargo ships and other shipping vessels have decreased in recent years from a peak over the last decade of 128 vessels that weighed over 100 tons lost in 2012, to 48 in 2019, and 49 in 2020—18 of which were designated as “cargo ships”—in the Allianz yearly Safety and Shipping Review.

“Foundered,” “wrecked/stranded,” and “fire/explosion” were the most common causes of losses in 2020, according to the review.

Newsweek has reached out to Volkswagen Group and Mitsui OSK Lines, the Japanese company that owns Felicity Ace, for comment.

Update: 2/17/22, 4:11 p.m. EST: This story has been updated with additional information.

Volkswagen Porsche Cargo Ship Fire Atlantic Cars
Several cars made by Volkswagen Group, including VWs and Porsches, are on board a cargo ship currently stranded in the Atlantic Ocean after a fire started on board Wednesday and the crew was evacuated. Above, the VW logo shines as the hood ornament on a new Volkswagen Golf 6 car at the Volkswagen factory on Feb. 25, 2011 in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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